Partner Profile: Britannica

Karthik Krishnan – Global CEO, Britannica
Britannica believes that voice will become the most prominent platform through which people will communicate, that’s why they’re excited to be working with Bixby. Learn more about their Bixby Capsule in this video.

Britannica is probably one of the oldest and most established company to partner with to create a Bixby Capsule. The last printed edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica was published in 2010 before they became a fully online resource for knowledge and research but their mission is still the same – to provide trust, reliable information, and learning inside and outside the classroom. It’s a pretty noble endeavor. Some of us grew up with physical Encyclopedias, in the dark ages…

Their plans for Britannica Sound Bytes are the most comprehensive and forward-thinking knowledge delivery we’ve seen yet. It pretty much blew our minds. They’re aiming to be the repository of Humanity’s knowledge, accessible to everyone.

Without further ado, here’s what they had to say.

Q. Tell us the story of your company, and what your vision is?

Britannica marked its 250th anniversary and 25th year on the Internet in December 2018. Our company was founded with the vision of curating and providing trusted knowledge. The first two sentences from the preface of our 1st edition in 1768 reads “UTILITY ought to be the principal intention of every publication. Wherever this intention does not plainly appear, neither the books nor their authors have the smallest claim to the approbation of mankind.”

Our mission is to “inspire curiosity and the joy of learning.” Our goal is to embed our content in meaningful ways into people’s lives and provide trusted information when they need it and where they need it, whether it is on the internet, mobile, voice, IoT, or a future membrane that could be tethered to one’s skin.

Q. Why did your company choose to have a voice strategy?

Voice is going to be the dominant form of communication given the ease of use and efficiency. We see a world where people will be engaging with their televisions to microwave ovens to smart phones through voice. That presents an opportunity and also raises the performance bar. It is imperative for us to help people cut through the noise in the digital universe and discover credible information. We not only want to provide answers but also additional context and a learning framework for people to understand topics holistically. Example: A response from Britannica Sound Bytes for “what is global warming” will provide not only a definition but also give users the option to learn about people involved and the theories, including ozone depletion, greenhouse effect, and methane burp hypothesis.

Q. How is your product better with voice? Do you believe you can reach more users with voice integration?

Voice is an efficient way for people to interact and consume information, particularly in a world that is increasingly comfortable with multitasking. Whether it is helping kids with homework, taking an interactive quiz to test your knowledge or casually looking up information, Britannica Sound Bytes will help people get trusted and verified information. “Save time. Learn more. Be Sure.”

Britannica Sound Bytes also has an array of convenience tools that most voice users are accustomed to, such as “Email the article”, “Remind me to read this article”, “Save this article to Google drive”.

Some of the other things we’ll be engaging in, will be things like personalizing information based on voice recognition, for example: a definition of Volcano for a kid will be simpler than the one provided to an adult. We’ll also have information leveled at different age groups.

Q. How was your collaboration with Samsung?
It was memorable thanks to the Samsung team working to ensure that we were creating an engaging and valuable experience for users. Whether it was answering a question promptly or providing quick workaround solutions in the Bixby platform to support our use case, the Samsung team didn’t flinch one bit.

Q. What do you like about developing for Bixby?
Easy learning curve: Great beginner tutorial with an intuitive developer tool and a responsive support infrastructure from the Samsung team creates a fun innovation box.

Ease of development: Compared to other voice platforms, Bixby development is very intuitive, especially the Modeling system that defines what types of files there are and what functions it has. It improves the readability and maintainability of the program.

The best feature of the developer’s tools is the debug console. It allows one to view all of the important aspects of how a query runs within one’s capsule. One can see the query’s execution graph and inspect every step’s input and output, including associated Actions, Concepts, Functions, Dialogs, Layouts, and Natural Language (NL) information.

Q, What would you like to share with other developers who are considering developing for Bixby?
The learning curve for Bixby is not steep even for those who have zero voice development experience. To get started, go to their online-course site and check out the videos. They will show you how to build a full capsule from scratch. Or you can go to the documentation, where there is a short tutorial to get you off the ground and to the world of voice.

Samsung has built a really good community system even before Bixby was public. There is a Quora-like page for Q&A where one can ask any technical and non-technical question. The response from Samsung team is very fast. There is also a feature request page where you may request a feature if the Bixby platform doesn’t have it yet.

And there you have it. In their answers, Britannica just gave great insight on how to use the Bixby developer tools! If you can’t trust Britannica’s 250 years of knowledge database, what can you trust? Got an idea for sharing knowledge with the world? Build a Capsule! Easy to use tools are ready at our Bixby Developer Studio.


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